Technology expert Dr. Richard Sorgnard covers the development of medicines and technology
Research is vital in the medical field. Since the start of the 20th century, medical technology and treatment have advanced by leaps and bounds. Research can be broken into two broad categories; fundamental and applied. Medical technology expert Dr. Richard Sorgnard breaks this topic down and explains why applied research is so important.
“Fundamental research refers to the basic research that advances knowledge,” Richard Sorgnard explains. “Often, you’re not certain what the outcomes could be or where the research will go. With applied research, you work to solve specific problems. While you can’t be certain of the outcomes, you have a good idea of what you want the research to solve.”
Ultimately, fundamental research expands human knowledge. Many of the most famous scientists in history, say Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton, made huge contributions to human knowledge through fundamental research.
Many of the technologies we use today were developed through applied research, which often relies on fundamental research, but extends insights to solve specific problems. When it comes to medical technology, this is vital.
“Medical research is about solving problems,” Richard Sorgnard says. “That might mean developing pharmaceutical drugs that kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, or whatever else. Or that could mean developing technologies to monitor vital stats, such as your heart rate, blood sugar levels, and the like.”
In medicine, research is ultimately evidence-based and must be thoroughly tested. Theory is vital, of course, but outcomes must be thoroughly tested, and testing itself needs to be controlled and verified.
Applied research is sometimes broken down into “action research,” “evaluation research,” and “research and development.”
Action research might help a medical company identify practical solutions to a business problem, say delivering vaccines to a remote region. Evaluation research helps medical companies analyze existing data and information to make decisions, perhaps whether to focus on patients struggling with weight issues, or patients struggling with high blood pressure.
Then there’s research and development, which is arguably the lifeblood of applied medical research.
“Medical companies have to consider a lot of factors, including business opportunities and the like,” Richard Sorgnard notes. “Still, at the end of the day, research and development is what advances medical technology and is what ultimately improves patient outcomes.”
How Applied Research is Helping With Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases are among the leading causes of early death in the United States, and indeed, around the world. With proper treatment, many chronic diseases are manageable. However, patients often struggle to manage their conditions at home.
Fortunately, applied research is allowing researchers to improve medical technologies. As Richard Sorgnard notes:
“With chronic diseases, applied research focuses on not just the condition and treating said condition, but also the patient. We develop technologies that help patients manage and monitor their condition, which in the long run will lead to better outcomes.”